NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 28 – Embakasi Member of Parliament Ferdinand Waititu was on Friday released on bond, after spending two days in custody and appearing in court on hate speech and incitement to violence charges.
He was set free after depositing a Sh 1 million bond in one of the cases where he is accused of inciting the people of Kayole to evict Maasai people from the region and Sh 100,000 for an earlier incitement case.
Waititu did not address journalists on his release, only saying “we will meet out there.”
Makadara Member of Parliament Gidion Mbuvi is among leaders who helped raise the bond for Waititu.
On Thursday, President Mwai Kibaki suspended the legislator as the Water and Irrigation Assistant Minister after facing the charges in court.
A statement from the Presidential Press Service said: “the President after consultations with Prime Minister Raila Odinga has asked the Hon Waititu to step aside as an assistant minister pending the outcome of the case.”
The legislator appeared at the Milimani Law courts where a magistrate ordered he be remanded at the Kileleshwa police station until Friday morning when he was set free.
His detention followed an objection by the office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) for his release, on grounds that he may abscond court attendance.
Through State Counsel Lillian Obuo, the DPP said the lawmaker had refused to honour police summons and went into hiding when he learnt that he was being sought.
Waititu had on Wednesday moved to the High Court to block his arrest and prosecution but his plea was rejected by justice Mary Ngugi who directed him to appear before the magistrate’s court on Thursday morning to plead to the charges.
Justice Ngugi said: “Individual liberty is important and must not be tampered with but the law must also be obeyed. The applicant (Waititu) will not stand trial before the police or the Director of Public Prosecutions.”
He is accused of saying: “Tunasema hiyo Wamaasai wote hatuwataki hapa Kayole” (We are saying today that we do not want Maasais in Kayole). “Wamaasai wote ni lazima waondoke, ni watanzania na hawana vitambulisho” (All Maasais must leave; they are from Tanzania and without identification cards).
The prosecution said the words were calculated to bring violence to the Maasai community working in Kayole.”
Waititu had moved to the High Court saying that he was being condemned unheard and wanted the court to block his arrest.
The Embakasi MP called made a personal statement in Parliament where he apologised for urging the eviction of the Maasai from his constituency.
The MP said his remarks targeted night watchmen, many of them, from Tanzania, who also happen to be Maasai. He said the blanket condemnation caught on tape was a “slip of the tongue”.
“When I used the word Maasai, I saw that it had come out wrongly. I accept that mistake and I apologise.
“Nobody can claim that they have never made such mistakes, even you, in your house, your tongue does slip, and that’s very normal,” the Embakasi MP said on Tuesday.
He said one person had been killed in Kayole in the wee hours of the morning and by daybreak; there was chaos in the area. The minister said that he was the one who quelled the chaos.
“I am fully responsible for what I said. There was nobody who was hurt after my utterances. You can interpret my statements as incitement, but that’s your view. But they were already incited. When I arrived, they had already blocked the roads,” said Waititu.